May 2, 2013

Advocates for Press Freedoms Take Action for Slain US Reporter Brad Will

For Immediate Release

(Houston, May 1) Advocates for press freedom and human rights are pressuring President Obama to remember murdered US journalist, Brad Will, who was slain in broad daylight by Mexican government-backed paramilitaries over six years ago. They issued an 'Action Alert' today, for people who shared their concern with the impunity with which the murder of a US journalist has been greeted in Mexico, to contact senior Senator Patrick Leahy from Vermont. The alert urged Senator Leahy to ask the President, on his trip to Mexico this week, to "raise to Mexican President Nieto publicly the lack of sound prosecution of the shooters who murdered Brad Will and . . .(to) insist that accountability for his murder, and the murder of other journalists, mostly Mexican, who had, before they were killed, been publishing stories of corruption and brutality by top Mexican government officials, be achieved promptly".

Senator Leahy was instrumental in inserting a requirement for an investigation into Brad Will's murder in earlier appropriations for Plan Mexico, a militarization package that has poured guns and other lethal aid into the Mexican military and police, forces that are widely seen as unaccountable, corrupt and which systematically abuse human rights. The resulting violence has contributed to the estimated 100,000 murders of civilians many of whom were innocent bystanders uninvolved in the drug trade.

As the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, Senator Leahy has the power to influence President Obama's discussions with President Nieto of Mexico, a major recipient of US military aid.

Brad Will was murdered in broad daylight over six years ago. There were many witnesses. Mexican government officials, at least four of them, were identified as the shooters. Yet only two were questioned by the Mexican prosecutor's office and both let go without charge.

Six years later, Brad Will's murder casts a cloud over all journalists in Mexico as they become increasingly targeted and murdered, often when they dare to cover the widespread collusion between Mexican Government authorities and the narco-cartels.

President Obama is heading to Mexico on Thursday. He has vastly increased far beyond President Bush's initial 'drug war' funding military aid to the Mexican security forces. He has done this despite widespread opposition to the 'drug war' as a failed policy, predictably entrenching cartels and deepening corruption, and despite the support for legalization from many Heads of State and from the American people. In the United States this same policy continues to see millions of arrests of petty offenders and addicts, but a complete lack of enforcement of criminal penalties against powerful interests like HSBC which laundered drug cartel money.

Most importantly, President Obama has continued to supply weaponry to unaccountable civilian government and security forces, despite a lack of credible law enforcement cooperation or accountability for the murder of a US citizen, for more than six years. Finally, when a US journalist is murdered by agents of a government  considered 'friendly' by the US government, the silence of top US officials sends a dangerous message to journalists everywhere.

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